Archive for October, 2009

Berlin Liebt Dich

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

We don’t often visit the same place twice. Berlin was a fond memory of mine from 2004, and Jess hadn’t been there previously, so between a cheap BA flight and it being located in a sufficiently eastward direction it proved a logical next destination form London.


There were other factors too – namely the lovely German girl Annika that we met in Salento, Colombia in July, who had recently moved to Berlin. She even offered us some couchspace to crash on, although Criagslist led us instead to a fantastic studio apartment rental. Once again I had the perfect environment for getting some work done (desk, fast WiFi, good coffee) and once again it amounted to very little.


We were also still in possession of a postcard we had collected from the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador), addressed to a district in Berlin which, as it turned out, was just a couple of km from our apartment.

With Annika’s help, we hand delivered it to a slightly bewildered fellow one Sunday morning having dragged it personally through 9 cities in 5 countries in two months, which is historically how passing merchant sailors operated the mail system from “Post Office Bay” in the Galapagos.

Berlin was a place that, five years ago, I said I could certainly live in. Impressively, not only did I retain that impression, but Jess came away with the same feeling. The main caveat being of course that it would need to be over the summer not least so we could enjoy such bits of genius as the Badeschiff, a swimming pool & bar that sits mostly submerged in the river Spree:


Berlin must be one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. We had a ball tripping around with Annika on bikes, which Berlin caters to with dedicated traffic lights, lanes, kerb-less footpaths, parking rails, train and tram carriage and the sheer volume of bike numbers such that they seem to dominate the city’s transport fabric.


Melbournites would also be very satisfied with Berlin’s culinary and cafe culture. Plenty of good coffee around, and outdoor lounging, as well as the ubiquitous – and truly excellent – Doner Kebab which actually originated from Turkish immigrants in Germany rather than in Turkey as you might reasonably expect.

The German people must generally be very honest. The entire metro system operates on the honour system – there are no barriers or turnstiles to validate the tickets. We travelled for a week and our (very reasonably priced) tickets were not checked once. Same principle applies at the Winerei, where you drink as many glasses of wine as you like and pay whatever amount you consider fair.

Between the vast amounts of park & green space in the city, it’s remarkably low cost of living, strategic location (and 2 euro trips to and from the airport!) it seems likely that we’ll return for a longer stretch some day.